§ MR. SNAPE (Lancashire, S.E., Heywood)
In the absence of my hon. Friend the Member for East Bradford, I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for India if the Secretary of State for India is aware that the Notification, No. 927a, of 8th April, 1893, issued by the Government of the North-West Provinces, still leaves the Municipality of Benares the power to tax certain Hindu temples for local rates; is the Secretary of State aware that Clause 1 of Section 63 of Act IV. of 1884, passed by the Madras Government, defines the law with respect to the rating of temples; that since that date the various Administrations have all passed Acts and Resolutions in conformity with the Madras Act; and that, in consequence, the temples of every city in India are exempted from taxation, except the City of Benares; and will the Secretary of State direct the Government of the North-West Provinces to make the practice of the Municipality of Benares agree with the principles of the Madras Act and with the practice of the rest of India?
*MR. G. RUSSELL
The Secretary of State for India has not seen the Order or Notification, issued by the Government of the North-West Provinces, which my hon. Friend quotes. The Report, which was called for in conformity with the answer I gave to his question on the same subject on the 25th April last, has not yet been received from India. A telegram has been sent requesting them to accelerate their Report. The Madras District Municipalities Act of 1884 does, as stated in the question, exempt places set apart for public worship, among other exemptions, from the municipal tax on buildings and lands. So, also, does the Bengal Municipalities Act. But, so far as the Secretary of State is aware, neither the Punjaub Municipalities Act, nor the Burma Act, nor the Central Provinces Act contains such an exemption. In all these Acts the Municipal Commissioners, the majority of whom are chosen by the ratepayers, have power "to define the persons or property to be taxed." The Secretary of State does not propose 115 to issue any Orders in the matter until he receives the Report which he has requested the Government of India to submit. The matter is one on which parties interested might suitably cause a question to be asked in the Local Legislative Council.